The Regional Planning Interests Act 2014 (RPIA) will soon become law and the first regulations under it are currently being reviewed by government.
RPIA introduces an additional level of approval required of energy companies wanting to undertake activities in Strategic Cropping Areas (SCA's) and areas identified as Priority Agricultural Areas (PAA's). Companies will now need to satisfy a range of additional criteria including obtaining the approval of the relevant Chief Executive and other bodies. The process seeks to ensure that SCAs and PAAs are preserved for agricultural priority when resource activities are proposed in them.
While the Act has its limitations, the legislation and the draft regulations appear to recognise the importance of preserving agricultural productivity in areas of high agricultural value and are a welcome step in addressing the social anxiety of landholders in those areas. It is most certainly a welcome indication that government is listening to the concerns of landholders and it will do much to assist restoring some balance in the identified areas.
Written by Peter Shannon
Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: June 3, 2014.